West African leaders gave Yahya Jammeh, who lost elections last month, until midday on Friday to hand over power and agree to leave The Gambia or face military action carried out by the regional bloc ECOWAS.
Later however, Jammeh requested a four-extension until 4pm local time to cede, government sources said, according to the Reuters news agency.
It was not clear what he planned to do, though diplomats said his departure looked increasingly possible.
The leaders of Guinea and Mauritania headed for The Gambia on Friday for talks with Jammeh.
West African troops entered the country to bolster new President Adama Barrow – who was sworn-in on Thursday – but military operations were suspended a few hours later in favour of a final diplomatic push to convince Jammeh, who has stubbornly refused to quit, to exit peacefully.
In his first media interview with Al Jazeera, Barrow urges Jammeh to leave the country and hopes that the 15 ECOWAS countries can find him a safe haven.
“We cannot allow Yahya Jammeh to remain in the Gambia, it will make our job difficult. That’s why all our negotiations is he leave Gambia, he can later come back. But as of now the political climate doesn’t allow that.”
“I advise him in good faith to give peace a chance. It is about democracy.”